MILENA CANONERO
Costume designer

She earned international acclaim for her 1971 film debut, designing the clothing for futuristic street punks for Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange.”
Four years later, she won an Oscar for her second effort, infusing sensuality into 18th-century court costumes for Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon.” That film sealed her reputation as a director’s designer, a visionary with an intellectual and intuitive approach to film.
Canonero became costumista to a legion of cerebral directors, scoring nominations and awards for her collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola (“The Cotton Club,” “Tucker,” “The Godfather, Part III”), Sydney Pollack (“Out of Africa”), Warren Beatty (“Dick Tracy,” “Bulworth”) and Steven Soderburgh (“Solaris,” “Ocean’s Twelve”).
Though Canonero’s white and cream creations for “Chariots of Fire” and “Out of Africa” are credited with launching Banana Republic, her biggest fashion influence may come out of Sofia Coppola’s much-anticipated “Marie Antoinette.”
Says Coppola: “I wanted to work with her because I knew she had experience in big costume films of the 18th century. But I also knew from her work on films like ‘A Clockwork Orange’ that she is very creative and innovative, so it wouldn’t be anything standard.”
Fashion fans are giddily anticipating her candy-colored confections for Kirsten Dunst’s court wardrobe, with mags citing its influence on everything from brocade shoes (Manolo Blahnik designed the pic’s footwear) to the “new romanticism” of Dior’s fall collection.

Career mantra: “Research the period as much as possible to find a fresh angle and avoid an academic look.”
Up next: The Hollywood Film Festival will honor her in October. Currently crafting costumes in Rome for director Roberto Faenza’s “The Viceroys.”

– Jan Lindstrom Valerio

PAULE CONSTABLE
Lighting designer for theater, opera and dance

Constable knows when she’s working at her best: “I’m happiest when the lighting and the emotional language ofa piece become one.”
A key creative on several of this year’s most lauded stage productions, she made her mark in 1992 with a groundbreaking design for Theatre de Complicite’s “Street of Crocodiles,” the first show lit by a woman at the National Theater; it later toured the world.
In 2005, after years of nominations, she became the first female lighting designer to win the Olivier Award, for “His Dark Materials” at the National Theater. She promptly followed that up by winning again this year for “Don Carlos” on the West End.
“My approach is about telling the story,” says Constable. “I work between the director and the designer to realize the text of both. My job is to create an image out of darkness and then add light for the actors.”

Career mantra: “The day I come armed with a preconceived idea about how to do it is the day I should stop.”
Role models: “Emily Bronte or Jane Campion, for expressing an individual sensibility and being unashamed of it.”
What’s next: “A Moon for the Misbegotten” with Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic, Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” at the National Theater, Wagner’s “The Ring” at the Strasbourg Opera and “Giulio Cesare” at Chicago Lyric Opera.

– David Benedict

CATHERINE ZUBER
Costume designer

Zuber stands at the top of the costuming profession for many reasons: She’s versatile, has a great sense of style and displays ample imagination. But the real secret to her success — she won back-to-back Tonys for “The Light in the Piazza” (2005) and “Awake and Sing!” (2006) — is that her costumes help actors express themselves.
In Adam Guettel’s musical “Piazza,” the clothes blossomed much as mother and daughter did, transformed by a visit to Florence. “When we first see them,” says Zuber, “they’re dressed relatively conservatively. As they grow more passionate about Italy, the colors become more vibrant, even sexier. I like to think about the actor’s journey.”
In “Awake and Sing!,” Zuber avoided clothing Clifford Odets’ Depression-era characters stereotypically by finding clues to their fortitude in the play’s details. Take how she dressed the character Hennie, played by Lauren Ambrose. “I found this green knit skirt that had a shabby quality,” says the designer, “but on the stage the color popped. When you have people going through a bad time, it doesn’t always mean they’re unclean or don’t look after themselves.”
Zuber is a stickler for historical truth — “I don’t think I’ve ever done a show without research” — but that doesn’t stifle her creativity. Her costumes for the sea creatures in the recent Broadway revival of Edward Albee’s “Seascape” also earned her a Tony nom. And in November she makes her Metropolitan Opera debut on Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”
Naturally, she welcomes the challenge. “Because everyone is singing constantly,” she notes, “you have license to be more over-the-top.”

Career mantra: “Keep smiling.”
Role model: “Jane Greenwood, my teacher at Yale, who is still teaching at Yale.”
What’s next: Tom Stoppard’s “The Coast of Utopia” trilogy at Lincoln Center in October, “The Barber of Seville” at the Metropolitan Opera in October and “The Snow Queen” for Tokyo’s Disney theme park in summer 2007.

– David Mermelstein

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